2 injured in fire at ammunition storage site on Crimea

AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov
A man looks out from an apartment destroyed after Russian shelling in Nikopol, Ukraine, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A fire at an ammunition storage site on Crimea left two people injured on Tuesday, local officials said, coming a week after a series of explosions at an air base on the peninsula that was annexed from Ukraine by Russia.

The blaze and blasts rattled the village of Mayskoye in the Dzhankoi district of Crimea early Tuesday, Russian media reported.

The Russian Defense Ministry said a fire erupted at a “site for temporary storage of ammunition of one of the military units.”

“As a result of the fire, the stored ammunition detonated,” the ministry said, adding that it wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire.

Crimea’s Russian-appointed governor Sergei Aksyonov said that two people sustained injuries, and that local residents were being evacuated from the area, as explosions of ammunition continued.

Ukrainian authorities haven’t yet commented on the incident.

Last week, a series of explosions occurred at the Saki air base near the Novofyodorovka village in Crimea. The Russian military blamed the blasts on an accidental detonation of munitions there, but the incident appeared to be the result of a Ukrainian attack. Kyiv said the explosions destroyed nine Russian airplanes.

Ukrainian officials at the time stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility for the explosions, while mocking Russia’s explanation that a careless smoker might have caused ammunition at the Saki air base to catch fire and blow up. Analysts also said that explanation doesn’t make sense and that the Ukrainians could have used anti-ship missiles to strike the base.

The Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, holds huge strategic and symbolic significance for both sides. The Kremlin’s demand that Ukraine recognize Crimea as part of Russia has been one of its key conditions for ending the fighting, while Ukraine has vowed to drive the Russians from the peninsula and all other occupied territories.